Our Pastor taught a very thought provoking sermon last Sunday, about a character I had never really thought much about. Joseph, the carpenter, the father of Jesus. It was a whole new perspective on the Christmas story, one I had never heard, and never thought about. And while pondering over the sermon during this week, these thoughts wove themselves together in my mind, and I thought I would share them with you =)
A carpenter. A lowly, hardworking carpenter. That was all he was. In humble circumstances, and betrothed to a young girl, striving to earn enough for her support, to support the children she would bear him.
Maybe this carpenter was thinking about his soon-to-be wife. In his eyes, she was an ideal woman. Beautiful. Graceful. Pure. Holy. He smiled to himself….then he remembered.
How had one so pure done this disgraceful thing? How had one so holy committed so heinous an act? To be expecting a child, out of holy wedlock….and when he loved her so much? Did she not know the circumstances? She could be stoned. She had invited the censure of her entire village.
Perhaps he prayed, begging God to tell him what he should do. They were both poor sinners in the sight of the Righteous God. Did that not cause him to act mercifully towards her? Yet, he was a just man. He knew there were consequences for sin…especially this sin. They had been taught by Moses, the revered leader of the nation Israel. He loved her — with his whole being he loved her — but he couldn’t marry her now. Not after this flagrant act of sin. Yet he had to protect her, this woman he cherished. His whole soul wanted to protect her from this shame she had caused herself. He was a just and honourable man. He would write her a bill of divorcement and send her on her way. Perhaps that would prevent some of the scandal that would be felt when others found out what she — His Mary — had done. Maybe he would sigh heavily as he went to bed; as he unashamedly allowed the tears to flow freely down his strong, manly cheeks.
Maybe he tossed and turned that dreamless night, thinking upon the future that could have been. Should have been. Musings upon his beloved’s story — that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. She claimed she was carrying the very Son of the Most High God in her womb. But that could never be. Never before in the history of man had a pure, untainted virgin conceived a child. Never. But then, her story about the angel visiting her….
As he tossed restlessly, an angel came to him in a dream. Perhaps he was startled. Then the heavenly messenger began to speak. “Joseph….fear not to take unto thee Mary as thy wife. The child which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit….” Imagine the thoughts of this man’s heart. He was expected to marry this woman? To share in her disgrace? He was supposed to irrevocably link his life to hers, to support her, to support her Son, to father another man’s child. But — the angel had said it was God’s child. He was to become the legal father of the Son of God. Could he now deny Mary’s claims? Dismiss her story?
This man — this carpenter — was faithful to God. He knew an angel had visited him. he knew the message he had been given. He knew men would not believe him. He had no tangible proof of his angelic visitor. He knew he would share her disgrace. Perhaps some would even think he was the father of this Child. But he was a man of obedience….a man of wisdom. He had sought God’s direction, and he now had it. He was willing to risk even his reputation to follow God’s direction for his life.
So those two, Joseph and Mary, pledged their lives to each other. Became husband and wife. And several months later this Child — the Christ-Child — was born to this young couple. A wondrous thing happened that night of all nights — the most memorable night in all human history. In a cattle shed — a stable — the Son of God was born. God had humbled himself enough to take on the form of a man. To go through the natural birthing process that brings a child into this world. And He humbled Himself to such a degree — made Himself of such low account — that He chose for His birth place a dirty, animal filled, noisy, smelly barn. Born to die, to overcome death and live once again, and to ascend into heaven, to intercede for all which are His at the right hand of the Father on high — His Father.
Merry Christmas to everyone! If you want to hear the original version of this message, you can listen to it here: A Man at God’s Disposal